Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, two Nashville natives have filed a class action lawsuit against ABC and the producers of ‘The Bachelor’ franchise, claiming deliberate discrimination against people of color (African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans).
The two African-American men and their lawyers consider this a “landmark civil rights case that will move social justice and economic equality forward.”
Both Claybrooks, an entrepreneur and former all-American football player, and Johnson, an aspiring NFL athlete and active community servant, applied during an open casting call for The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in August 2011.
Claybrooks claimed that he was interviewed for less than half the time of white applicants in front of him. Johnson alleges that he fared even worse. He was apparently stopped just inside the door and asked what he was doing there.
Both men felt they were unfairly dismissed because of their race.
Lawyers for the men claim that executive producer and defendant Mike Fleiss’ insistence that the show does not get a enough applicants of color was “just pretext. We think they purposely do not want people of color on this show.”
He estimated there have been dozens, maybe even hundreds of contestants turned away based on race, As he pointed out, in all of the 23 seasons, there have been no Bachelors and Bachelorettes of color.
He went on to state that ‘The Bachelor’ franchise is sending a bad message to America: “a message of exclusiveness — of denying people opportunity — and that has a negative effect on this country.”
The men refused to discuss their financial goals for the case. They instead speak of it in terms of “a vehicle for change.”
Warner Horizon Television, one of the producers of ‘The Bachelor’, responded to the allegations on Wednesday, saying they are “baseless and without merit.” They point out that the hopefuls looking to attract the attention of the Bachelor or Bachelorette come from a diverse ethnic background. However, the lawsuit focuses on the homogeneous casting of the starring role, which in recent years has been chosen from among the top three contestants from a previous season.